Yesterday, I finished the language course I have been doing for the last three weeks. This consisted of 26 hours of lessons a week, which equals a whopping 78 hours of French overall – quite impressive if you ask me! My understanding of spoken French has improved a huge amount and I am much more confident than I was when I arrived.
The classes were intense and completely exhausting – thinking and speaking in French all day is surprisingly draining. Although I was only there for three weeks, I feel like I became extremely close to many of my classmates. I’m sure that a few nights of mojito drinking and story sharing helped the friendships blossom, but I would also put it down to the fact that we were all going through the same, tiring, experience of thinking and speaking in a foreign language all the time. Considering that I have stayed in contact with people I met on a one week French course three summers ago, I do not doubt that I will keep in touch with the great friends I have made over the last few weeks. There is even a plan for a reunion in August 2024, which I will obviously be able to attend as I will be living here in Paris with my sexy French husband and adorable, tri-lingual children. (This is my plan, obviously.)
Anyway, the point of this post is just to highlight how much I have enjoyed the first part of my Year Abroad. It was a very last-minute decision to do this course at France Langue, but I could not be happier with my experience. Although it was a bit like going back to actual school – sitting in a classroom reading about the environment from a boring textbook – the course was exactly what I hoped it would be. The teachers were great: they basically just encouraged us to talk as much as possible and were happy to let us debate about whatever we fancied. It was so nice to be back in a school-like environment without having to worry about staying on topic and working towards an exam. At some point I will write a blog post on interesting vocab and phrases that I’ve learned here – just to please my mummy -, but I’ve got other, more interesting, stories to tell right now so I’ll save that post for a boring work week in November…
Now for the fun stuff. I was determined to make the most of my last week of freedom, and went for lots of morning and evening strolls in my new Nikes – I even made it across the river on Wednesday morning!
On Wednesday evening, after a funny bootcamp workout class in the Tuileries with a friend from Oxford, I had my first Parisian clubbing experience. The club was Wanderlust and it was Ladies’ Night, and oh what a night it was. Despite being almost entirely sober and relatively nervous about whipping out my crazy dance moves in front of new friends, I had a surprisingly fun night.
It certainly took a while to get used to the creepy men roaming the dance floor, although I’m not sure if this is typical of Paris nightlife or rather due to the fact that they had to pay €20 for entry while the girls got in for free…I also found the male strippers quite entertaining, but this was something that my Swiss schoolmates just couldn’t get their heads around; they were absolutely repulsed that a man with a beer belly would be paid to take his clothes off in a public place.
We made some friends from Korea and pulled some funky shapes on the podium, and I’m extremely impressed that we managed to last until 3am with barely a drop of alcohol in our bodies – something that definitely would not happen back home. I may not be rushing back there next Wednesday night, but I’d definitely like to go again at some point!
On Thursday night we went out for Sushi together near République in the 11th Arrondissement. We had been hoping to go to Sushi Jade, a popular little Japanese restaurant with an all-you-can-eat buffet, but sadly it was closed so we opted for a cosy little place we stumbled upon. This was my first meal in an authentic Japanese restaurant, and the sashimi and mushroom noodle soup did not disappoint. One of my friends from school brought a couple of French friends along and, although my French has definitely improved a huge amount since I’ve been here, none of us were able to understand a word they said. Next mission: make an actual French friend.
Although I’m here for the next few months, and many of my friends are staying for at least another week, two of our good friends left Paris this weekend, so we decided to send them off with a picnic in the Jardin de Tuileries on Friday evening. After class, we headed off to Monoprix to stock up on bread, cheese and wine, then made ourselves comfortable in the Louvre gardens. We exchanged addresses while munching on some Comté, and promised to keep in touch. I’m even considering re-jigging my (vague) plans for South America so that I can go and visit my new friend José in the Dominican Republic!
I’ve had a lovely three weeks and am so pleased that I decided to do this course. It’s been a nice, gentle introduction to life in Paris, and I’m feeling ready to start my internship at Ligne de Front next week. I can’t quite believe how quickly three weeks have gone by, though. The last time I came to Paris I stayed for ten days and couldn’t bear to leave the city when I was just starting to feel at home. I’m so excited that I still have another four months ahead of me, and I have a sneaky suspicion that I’m going to love Paris more and more as the weeks go by!
(Wow, my posts are getting cheesier and cheesier. Pun not intended, but appreciated nonetheless)